Joe Biden Delivers Tearful SXSW Speech About Curing Cancer

Joe Biden SXSW

AUSTIN, TEXAS — In his first major appearance since leaving the White House, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a packed auditorium at SXSW on Sunday afternoon about a world in which cancer isn’t fatal.

“Your generation can be the first generation on Earth that goes through life with cancer as a preventable or controllable disease as opposed to a death sentence,” Biden said.

Throughout his one-hour speech, Biden laid out a vision for the future, where patients received the right treatment without harmful side effects and children were vaccinated against certain kinds of cancers. “I am unable to postpone for one day longer the things we can do now to extend people’s lives,” Biden said. “We can make enormous progress.”


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At times verging on tears, with his voice growing soft, Biden spoke tenderly about his older son Beau who died at 46 in 2015, after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. Biden remembered how, that summer, he made the decision not to run for president. “Neither Jill or I, we didn’t have the stomach,” Biden said, referring to his wife. “No one should run for president of the United States unless they are prepared to give every ounce of their energy to that undertaking.”

Biden said that after he shared the news with President Obama, he told him of his only regret. “I would have loved to be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it,” Biden recalled saying.

In the White House, Biden launched the Cancer Moonshot Task Force to sharpen and rethink the federal government’s role in fighting the disease. “I promised I’d do everything I could to knock down every silo that existed at the federal level, impeding progress,” Biden said.

The speech, which didn’t include questions from the audience, was tightly focused and apolitical. “Guess what?” Biden said. “The only bipartisan thing left in America is the fight against cancer.”

The only reference to Donald Trump came obliquely, when Biden went off the script to vent about a White House Cabinet that doesn’t believe in global warming. “It frustrates me,” Biden said. He’d been talking about the harmful chemicals in the environment that can make people sick.

“The core of the Republicans in Congress and Democrats are good, decent, honorable people,” Biden added. “It’s my hope that this new administration, once it gets organized — and I’m not being facetious — will be able to focus on and be as committed and enthusiastic as we are to the goal of ending cancer.”

Biden was joined in Austin by his wife, Jill, who introduced him. Last year, both Barack and Michelle Obama came to SXSW to deliver keynote speeches.


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  1. Carl O'Kelley says:

    Over and over people say they want to keep the parts of ACA they like, such as coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and maternity care, but get rid of the part they don’t like – paying for it by individual mandate and employer requirement. Most concede that there is a crucial need to drive down the cost of healthcare but on that subject we only hear distractions like “competition” and “open state borders.” Meanwhile the healthcare cost elephant in the room that is not acknowledged but which cannot be ignored is smoking, in spite of smoking cessation programs and higher insurance premiums for smokers. 60% of healthcare costs for smoking diseases are paid for through government programs. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease. Secondhand smoke makes even non-smokers sick. To drastically drive down the cost of healthcare: make smoking and vaping in public illegal; make smoking and vaping in cars with children child abuse; prohibit all tobacco product advertising in all media and retail outlets; and immediately stop hiring smokers for federal, state and local governments, including the Department of Defense and police departments. BTW, the ALA, AHA and AMA should stop hiring smokers, and doctors who smoke should be required to let their patients know about their cigarette habit so patients can avoid that source of thirdhand smoke.

    • Steve says:

      Has vaping been proven to have the same secondhand effects as smoking?

      • Carl O’Kelley, awesome idea, man! Making the usage and possession of cannabis, heroin, cocaine, &c has been such a resounding success I’m certain making tobacco use/possession will work equally well.

        But I don’t think you go far enough. We can’t allow these people to reproduce, because their genes are obviously defective, and so we must use our power to vote in this Democracy to prevent them passing these inferior traits onto The Children. Tobacco/vape users should all be sterilized!

        And I also propose we create a registry, like we’ve done with sex offenders as a further punishment and to protect non-smokers, especially The Children, from inadvertently breathing near them.

        We should also use civil forfeiture to take all their wealth, then deport them to send a message that We The People simply will not tolerate those who are so selfish and greedy that they refuse to realize that they’re irresponsibly causing medical prices to go through the roof by their cavalier refusal to conform.

        Healthcare is a RIGHT and the only fair way to bring down prices is to put a cap on the earnings of all healthcare professionals, especially surgeons. There’s no reason why doctors should make millions off of our suffering. They should be forced to live like their patients. Why do doctors have to have such big houses? Three bedrooms, two bathrooms is big enough for anybody! They shouldn’t be allowed to make over $250,000 a year, and if they do that extra money should be given back to The People to help bring down the price of healthcare.

        This is a no-brainer!

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